The 2019 season has not yet arrived, and yet the Cubs have kinda already suffered their first injury. Second verse same as the first.
As Theo Epstein informed the media:
Epstein: Brandon Morrow had arthroscopic debridement procedure on Nov. 6 (“cleanup of cartilage”). Could impact availability in April.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) December 6, 2018
Morrow had a scope on his elbow on Nov 6 and he's feeling good post-op. Feb 6 is target date for him to start throwing, unlikely he's ready to start season.
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) December 6, 2018
You will recall that Yu Darvish, who was also suffering from a stress reaction in his elbow in 2018, had an arthroscopic cleanup procedure near the end of the season as well (mid-September). I can’t speak to the specifics, but generally, the idea with these minor operations is to remove/clean-up the stuff in the elbow that is causing pain and inflammation. It’s not necessarily a cure for the stress reaction these guys suffered (which is the reaction in the bone *TO* the inflammation and stress), but it could theoretically help out in the future (while the stress reaction heals over time).
The timeline here simply isn’t great, and given Morrow’s extensive injury history, you should presume he will definitely not be ready for the open of the season. That’s not a nightmare scenario, given that his innings were almost certainly going to be limited anyway, but it does reinforce the idea that the Cubs have deeply critical needs in the bullpen.
Check out the guys under control for next year:
- Morrow: missed the second half, had elbow surgery.
- Pedro Strop: ended the season injured.
- Steve Cishek: ended the season struggling a bit, and was heavily used.
- Carl Edwards Jr.: ended the season struggling mightily and injured.
- Brandon Kintzler: struggled the entire second half with the Cubs.
- Brian Duensing: struggled and was injured all year.
- Mike Montgomery: probably decent if he’s in the bullpen.
- Several unestablished, up-and-down AAA types: they are unestablished, up-and-down AAA types.
Maybe the reason the Cubs are so reluctant to commit to spending to add an impact bat is because they know they have desperate, significant needs in the bullpen.
It was already the case that the Cubs were going to target a number of relievers this offseason, some of whom could be closer “types.” With Morrow probably out to begin the season, the urgency to bring in a closing-caliber reliever (to push everyone else back) is all the more critical. And if that guy takes the job and runs with it even after Morrow returns? So be it. Not like a healthy Morrow would be a bad set-up man.
Best of luck to Morrow in his offseason recovery. You are needed, sir.